Missouri Business Alert: As Missouri mulls Proposition B, some small businesses tout upside of higher minimum wage

By Elliot Bauman
Missouri Business Alert, Sept 20, 2018

... Missourians will vote in November on Proposition B, which would raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 by 2023. More than 400 Missouri businesses have come out in support of the wage hike, hoping increased labor costs will be offset by the economic benefits.

Leigh Lockhart, the owner of Main Squeeze Cafe in Columbia, is one of the business owners supporting an increased minimum wage. She doesn’t believe Proposition B, which would increase the wage floor by 85 cents per year until 2023, will impact her restaurant’s profitability.

“I think that the bottom line is 85 cents an hour to a business like mine is not going to affect my bottom line because I’m going to offset it in other ways,” Lockhart said.

Lockhart said she would increase prices of her products to offset increased labor costs, but she also believes that her profits would increase with higher wages because her workers are also her customers.

“I expect it to make me more money because my employees are going to have more money to spend,” Lockhart said. “My goal is to have my starting wage at $12 by the end of 2019 because I want to be ahead. I want to show businesses, ‘Hey, this is what I did, and it’s working. And we’re still profitable.’”

Laura Huizar, an attorney at the National Employment Law Project, believes increased labor costs would be balanced out by the economic benefits of a higher minimum wage. ...

Lockhart has already begun raising wages for long-term employees. She says increased wages have made her less wary of job turnover.

“One of the big things that’s changed in my business since we started raising wages is I’m much more comfortable,” Lockhart said. “Now that I’m paying people (more), I know that they value the job, and I feel really proud. When you see them being able to achieve things that they’ve wanted because you’re paying a better wage, that’s the best feeling in the world.” ...

Pam Hausner, who owns Kansas City-based design firm Big Vision Design and also runs a residential cleaning service and meditation studio, believes that raising wages can help improve productivity and customer service.

“If their employees are stressed and worried about how they’re going to pay their bills and how they’re going to get by, they’re not focused employees,” Hausner said. “For the people that work for me, they were the ones that met with my customers. So, I needed to make sure they were happy so that happiness could be passed along.” ...

2017 study of Bureau of Labor Statistics data found that total employment grew by 10.1 percent in states that had raised their minimum wage between 2013 and 2017, compared to only 8.2 percent in states with no increases. ...

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Copyright 2018 Missouri Business Alert

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